The three scents are meant to enhance your ice cream eating experience, or just be worn on their own.
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Salt & Straw Culinary Perfume
Credit: Courtesy of Salt & Straw

Have you ever noticed that ice cream has no discernibly strong smell of its own? Go ahead, grab that half-eaten carton out of your freezer and double-check if you need to, we'll wait. Tyler Malek, the co-founder of innovative Portland, Oregon ice cream brand Salt & Straw, saw that as an opportunity to introduce other scents into the ice cream-eating experience and, after four years of work with Portland perfumery Imaginary Authors, they're releasing a trio of ice cream perfumes. 

The first-of-their-kind fully edible perfumes are being released today — it is National Ice Cream Day, after all — and will be available in Salt & Straw's scoop shops or to order online. The two brands previously collaborated on a (non-edible) perfume based on the smell of a freshly baked waffle cone, and that led to a lot of "nerding out," in Malek's words about what else might be possible. "We talked a lot about how food and smell interact. And over the past four years, we've always kind of gone back to this idea of how do we enhance our foods — specifically ice cream — with different aromas," Malek told Food & Wine.

"We kept thinking about how we could adjust the aroma of ice cream in a way that hasn't ever been done before. So we went through each of the 'flavors' of perfume, and tried to figure out how to take the ingredients that perfumists use, and how to take the 8,000 and so that are food ingredients and are edible, and use them to create a scent that is made for ice cream."

They eventually decided to focus on the three scents that might comprise "the Neapolitan ice cream" of perfume. "I know that's kind of cheesy, but you have to start somewhere, when you have all of those flavors to take into consideration," Malek said. "[Imaginary Authors perfumer Josh Meyer] said that if we were going to do a Neapolitan, the three would be versions of citrus, floral, and a woodsy vanilla. The ingredients started lining up, and we were just giddy because we realized that there's something really cool here."

Salt & Straw Culinary Perfume
Credit: Courtesy of Salt & Straw

The final result swapped a chocolate scent for the vanilla, so today's launch includes "A Cloud of Cocoa," a rich, robust perfume with notes of Ecuadorian chocolate, malted milkshake, and Japanese whisky; "A Plume of Blumes" which combines honeysuckle and jasmine; and "A Swoon of Citrus," which balances the tartness of citrus with the herbal undertones of an entire orchard. 

So how do you use an edible perfume? Malek says that the key is to create a "dome of aroma" around the ice cream, by spraying either the cone or the bowl first, then adding an additional spritz of perfume on the scoops themselves. Then you'll want to take several seconds to fully experience the scent before taking your first bite. (If you don't know where to start, Malek recommends trying A Cloud of Cocoa as a first step.)

"We're hoping that people will blend them a bit," he added. "We've tasted them in about 20 different ways, but once you put it out in the market, it could be tasted in two million different ways. We don't even know what some of the combinations are going to be yet."

Malek also emphasized that although this might sound like a novelty, it's actually a unique way to customize and personalize your ice cream, without relying on mix-ins or toppings. And, yes, you can wear each scent as a "regular" perfume, too.

Salt & Straw Culinary Perfume
Credit: Courtesy of Salt & Straw

The aromatic trio will be available to purchase in Salt & Straw's scoop shops and online at saltandstraw.com. Each 65 mL bottle retails for $65, or you can pick up a trio of 10 mL travel-sized bottles for $48. And Salt & Straw customers who just want to try a spritz or two on their next cup or cone can add one as a topping for $0.50 cents. "We love these perfumes and there are a lot more flavors we can play with," Malek said. "There are a lot of flavors we did play with, and kind of left on the R&D table. But more than anything, this opens up a whole new world of playing with your senses which is really cool."